By Erik Onstott
The Orange Leader
Some 22 months after Hurricane Rita, the end of living rent-free in FEMA trailers is drawing near. However, help is still available for Orange County residents whose homes were damaged by the hurricane.
The agency recently started sending out letters notifying residents living in the trailers that the residents must, in the near future, either begin paying rent to FEMA or return the trailers.
According to Kim Davis, family advocate with Orange County Rita Recovery, there are still about 200 FEMA trailers in Orange County.
“We were told by FEMA that the deadline would be March of 2008,” said Carol Parsley, case manager for Orange County Rita Recovery.
Parsley said the organization, which formed a partnership with the United Methodist Committee on Relief, was still accepting applications for assistance from homeowners whose residences were damaged by the storm. The organization is repairing six houses this weekend with the help of volunteers from Winfree Baptist Church and the First United Methodist Church of Orange.
However, she said, the organization is wrapping up its work in the county and that homeowners interested in assistance need to contact the organization as soon as possible.
Those interested in applying for assistance from Rita Recovery must own their own homes. Rita Recovery will also help residents whose homes are not in their names help to get the homes in their names so they may qualify for the assistance.
“We understand there are people out there whose homes have been passed down through generations and that they might not have gotten the paperwork done,” Parsley said. “It’s important to realize that people still need help.”
When homeowners apply for assistance, representatives from Rita Recovery meet with the homeowners and assess the damage to their homes; the representatives then report their findings to Parsley, who then makes the decision whether to go forward with the assistance.
By Erik Onstott
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